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Colour

RudbeckiaAsk any experienced gardener and they’ll tell you that no garden bed is complete without a representative of this group of annuals bringing their particular brand of hardy good cheer. Dianthus is one of those all-rounder’s that satisfies, no matter your priorities. If it’s a colourful show you’re after these little stunners can be coaxed into flowering throughout the year!

If you’re looking for something different this summer, look no further than a globe amaranth, aka Gomphrena. You’ll be forgiven for the “what?” expression since these lovely globe like flowers are not very well known, at least not yet. Their intense purple blooms are an eye catching addition to any garden though and will no doubt have your guests asking about them before the drinks are even served.

Dianthus

The delicately fringed blooms, typical of many of the dianthus, lend form and texture to borders, rockeries, small flower beds and balconies while their generosity of flowers, with a little coaxing, promise a bright splash of year-round colour. Plant your seedlings 15cm apart, with a thick layer of mulch between the plants, in a sunny Dianthus position (although they will tolerate some shade in summer) in compost enriched soil and give them a fortnightly booster of a well-balanced fertiliser to ensure a bumper crop of blooms. Being “Water-Wise” Dianthus prefer infrequent but deep watering- another plus for this family of favourites.

Restricted to pots or simply yearning to bring your garden closer to your home? All of the dianthus group adapt exceptionally well to pots. Once in full bloom Dianthus can be brought inside as a living bouquet. Pay pots on sunny patios a little closer attention than you do the Dianthus in your garden by being more generous and frequent with your watering.

GomphrenaGomphrena

Gomphrena, aka globe amaranth, is a bushy, hairy leaf annual with globe-like purple flower bracts that sit atop thick stems. With South Africa’s hot and humid summers, our climate is ideal for these stunners to thrive. They are both heat and fairly drought tolerant and work well in both containers or as borders and edging.

Gomphrena do best in half shade and full sun positions in well-draining soil. They grow to about 60cm in height and make excellent cut flowers! The showy blooms attract butterflies too, so make sure to place them where they can be appreciated for both the blooms and their visitors!

Dill

Dill, an often overlooked herb is actually used in a wide variety of dishes, from the leaves which have a pronounced tang all the way to the seeds which taste similar to caraway. Grown in well drained composted soil, dill attracts your more beneficial insects like the tiny wasps that eat aphids

DillRudbeckia

Rudbeckia, aka Denver daisies, offer up masses of show stopping yellow colour in the form of a low maintenance compact plant. What more can you ask for from a container plant? Well they flower for months on end, attract butterflies and tolerate heat too, so a perfect December choice for your patio planters! Deadheading will definitely go a long way to making that flowering period even longer, and with flowering stalks between 45 and 50cm high, cut flowers for the house are not out of the question either.

Information supplied by the Bedding Plant Growers Association. For more, go to www.lifeisagarden.co.za

Gardening in South Africa

RudbeckiaAsk any experienced gardener and they’ll tell you that no garden bed is complete without a representative of this group of annuals bringing their particular brand of hardy good cheer. Dianthus is one of those all-rounder’s that satisfies, no matter your priorities. If it’s a colourful show you’re after these little stunners can be coaxed into flowering throughout the year!

If you’re looking for something different this summer, look no further than a globe amaranth, aka Gomphrena. You’ll be forgiven for the “what?” expression since these lovely globe like flowers are not very well known, at least not yet. Their intense purple blooms are an eye catching addition to any garden though and will no doubt have your guests asking about them before the drinks are even served.

Dianthus

The delicately fringed blooms, typical of many of the dianthus, lend form and texture to borders, rockeries, small flower beds and balconies while their generosity of flowers, with a little coaxing, promise a bright splash of year-round colour. Plant your seedlings 15cm apart, with a thick layer of mulch between the plants, in a sunny Dianthus position (although they will tolerate some shade in summer) in compost enriched soil and give them a fortnightly booster of a well-balanced fertiliser to ensure a bumper crop of blooms. Being “Water-Wise” Dianthus prefer infrequent but deep watering- another plus for this family of favourites.

Restricted to pots or simply yearning to bring your garden closer to your home? All of the dianthus group adapt exceptionally well to pots. Once in full bloom Dianthus can be brought inside as a living bouquet. Pay pots on sunny patios a little closer attention than you do the Dianthus in your garden by being more generous and frequent with your watering.

GomphrenaGomphrena

Gomphrena, aka globe amaranth, is a bushy, hairy leaf annual with globe-like purple flower bracts that sit atop thick stems. With South Africa’s hot and humid summers, our climate is ideal for these stunners to thrive. They are both heat and fairly drought tolerant and work well in both containers or as borders and edging.

Gomphrena do best in half shade and full sun positions in well-draining soil. They grow to about 60cm in height and make excellent cut flowers! The showy blooms attract butterflies too, so make sure to place them where they can be appreciated for both the blooms and their visitors!

Dill

Dill, an often overlooked herb is actually used in a wide variety of dishes, from the leaves which have a pronounced tang all the way to the seeds which taste similar to caraway. Grown in well drained composted soil, dill attracts your more beneficial insects like the tiny wasps that eat aphids

DillRudbeckia

Rudbeckia, aka Denver daisies, offer up masses of show stopping yellow colour in the form of a low maintenance compact plant. What more can you ask for from a container plant? Well they flower for months on end, attract butterflies and tolerate heat too, so a perfect December choice for your patio planters! Deadheading will definitely go a long way to making that flowering period even longer, and with flowering stalks between 45 and 50cm high, cut flowers for the house are not out of the question either.

Information supplied by the Bedding Plant Growers Association. For more, go to www.lifeisagarden.co.za

Gardening in South Africa

Marigolds If it’s warm, rich colours you are after then marigolds are just the thing for you. Their colourful flowers come in shades of orange, yellow, red and bi-coloured, with many flower shapes and sizes to choose from. You may be forgiven for thinking that surely marigolds are a bit old fashioned, because they bring back memories of your grandmother’s garden. This may have even been true a few years back, however they have made a big comeback in contemporary gardens.

Everyone has those shady areas in the garden where nothing grows, or at least they think, nothing can grow. Well the good news is that of course there are things that can grow there and we’ve got just the annual for you to use. Coleus, more commonly known as “Flame Nettle” or “Painted Leaf”, is just the thing to brighten up those shady areas.

Coleus Marigold

Bedding plants are an indispensable aspect of your summer garden. Marigolds fit squarely into this category! If you have lots of sun and well-drained soil, you can grow these easy to care for and ultra-rewarding bedding plants with very little fuss. They are particularly good at giving your garden bold swathes of eye catching colour. Some may have you believe that they water hungry and demanding, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact they generally thrive with minimal care and once established, only strategic watering during dry spells.

Plant marigolds in full sun in a well composted bed. To ensure continuous blooms (up to four months at a time), deadhead the plants regularly. Feed your plants every six weeks with a balanced fertilizer. Marigolds are a water wise choice, so once they have settled in after transplanting, water infrequently.

Pentas Coleus

Excellent for use as a ground cover, these plants will inject colour into the darker, drabber corners of the garden and will also do well indoors. They require fertile, well-drained soil and new plants, in particular, will benefit from a little extra watering. When planting, space your coleus uniformly and pinch back to promote new growth (pinching back the main stem at around 15 cm will result in a much bushier plant). At maturity you can expect a 30cm spread so this should be accounted for when contemplating your planting. At 20 cm high with densely packed foliage, this mini canopy will act as a natural mulch, keeping the soil cool through the summer months.

Onions

Onions may make most people cry while the pungent smell of their raw form lingers for hours but there is simply nothing more widely loved in the edible category! Thriving in full sun or partial shade, they enjoy fertile, well-draining soil but may Onionsneed some help with weed control. If weeds take over, they’ll definitely soak up the available sun before the onions skinny leaves even get a look in.

Pentas

Pot up a butterfly magnet for your patio this spring! Pentas make the most exquisite clusters of star shaped flowers, alive with fluttering wings, and are available in red, white or pink. Depending on how compact you’d like it to be, Pentas respond really well to cutting back and they also make excellent cut flowers!

Information supplied by the Bedding Plant Growers Association. For more, go to www.lifeisagarden.co.za.

Gardening in South Africa